Michael Showalter (Hello, My Name is Doris; The Big Sick) directs this crime comedy about Leilani (Issa Rae) and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani), a couple whose relationship has seemed to run its course. On the way to a party, they run a red light and hit a bicyclist (Nicholas X. Parson), who bounces off their windshield, leaps up and rides off. Then a man claiming to be a cop (Paul Sparks) commandeers their car and chases after the bicyclist, running him over before running off and leaving the couple with a dead body. Panicked by two pedestrians who happen upon the scene, Leilani and Jibran run, sure that they'll be accused of the murder. On the lam, they hatch a cockamamie plan to find the killer and exonerate themselves. (86 min).
Glen This is a plot we've all seen before: the hapless couple caught up in a dangerous crime that somehow blunder through to save themselves. Not exactly a novel idea. Luckily, our two leads are terrific together, and both exhibit expert comic timing in this breezy lark of a film. It's pretty standard-issue fare, but Rae and Nanjiani are so watchable and funny that the razor-thin plot and broadly painted supporting characters are forgivable. It opens with the couple's meet-cute first encounter and then skips ahead four years to their bickering present where they argue hilariously about anything and everything. Right before they hit the bicyclist, they agree to break up, but now they seem to be stuck with each other until they can sort out this mess. Jibran happened to pick up the bicyclist's phone before he and Leilani ran from the scene, so they at least have one clue to track down. What follows is a fast-paced romp as they work to unlock the phone, end up in the bicyclist's frat-boy-filled apartment, then at a weird Eyes Wide Shut-style sex party, then finally kidnapped by a couple at the sex party—all over the course of the same night. The conclusion is ultimately predictable, but the film is a welcome distraction.
Anna The two co-stars really do bounce off of one another. It's quick and funny, which counterbalances its predictability pretty nicely. Sure, we've all seen the plot before, but it definitely is fun watching these two execute it. I fell for Nanjiani's comedic style hook, line, and sinker in The Big Sick, and he doesn't disappoint here. I'm less familiar with Rae's work, but if this slapstick silliness is any indication, I'm ready for more. Luckily the two play well together, and not only do you end up cheering for them to clear their names but also kiss and make up. If they can get through this night of insanity, they can get through anything, right? This flick doesn't take itself too seriously, and the audience is invited in on the fun for their wild ride. Between the bickering and scheming is some pretty solid comedy, and I would totally watch this again anytime I needed to escape into silliness for a while.
Glen I wonder if I would have liked this as much had I seen it in a theater. After nearly three months of quarantine and a whole lot of TV and straight-to-DVD movies, my expectations may have been lowered, but I laughed out loud throughout the film. It's also a charming love story. At one point, Leilani is revealing to her friend that she and Jibran broke up, and her friend can't believe it. Even though Leilani and Jibran think their relationship is broken due to their bickering, from the outside looking in, their friends can see how deeply they love one another. These characters are both likable and funny, and if you're a fan of screwball romantic comedies, this delivers. If I paid for a matinee, I'd be perfectly satisfied, and seeing as how it came as part of our Netflix package, it's a deal!
Anna Totally. That's the great thing about these streaming services—you don't have to nickel and dime every show or movie—it's all part of the package! Is this film mostly fluff? Sure. Is it also a ton of fun? You bet. I've always been a fan of this type of rom-com; it's a much-needed break, especially with everything that is going on in the world. A little escapism into this couple's wild and wacky night was a dose of happiness that I very much needed. Hopefully these two work together again. Their chemistry and comedy played well together. This is also a great-date night flick, so throw some popcorn on the stove and cuddle up on the couch and enjoy The Lovebirds with your lovebird. It's a fun one. Δ
Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Split Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.